Leisure and hospitality law is a field of legal specialization that is often taken for granted, but as the hospitality industry grows in the United States, so to do its opportunities expand.
The focus of this particular legal industry is on hotels and resorts, golf courses, private clubs, travel agents and brokers, time shares, and restaurants; literally every leisure destination within the U.S. falls under the purview of hospitality law. These include privately owned businesses, large corporations, franchises, and virtually every other category of business in existence.
Here are five areas of skill and expertise which are vital for someone entering into a career as a leisure and hospitality law professional:
Mergers and Acquisitions
This is a complicated but lucrative legal specialty. Within the leisure and hospitality industries, large corporations regularly buy and sell properties, sometimes splitting into more than one corporate entity, or reabsorbing companies that were previously cut loose. Mergers and acquisitions ties in to everything from real estate, to federal corporate law, to intellectual property law. During an acquisition, it is important to preserve shareholder value, while disrupting the experience of guests as little as possible; any impact on the provision of services is a reduction to the bottom line of the acquiring (or newly merged) corporation.
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Privacy law is a tricky business to get into to start with. Local municipalities, states, and the federal government all have different laws and regulations regarding the protection of an individual’s privacy, but there are also widely applicable international stipulations with which many leisure and hospitality providers need to be familiar. Some companies operate facilities across multiple countries, while others do a lot of business with foreign nationals (who will be expecting their rights to be protected as ardently as they would be in their own countries).
Labor and Employment Law
Few industries employ more people, across the United States, than leisure and hospitality. When you consider that restaurants are included under this overall umbrella, the industry provides a large portion of the entry-level jobs in nearly every state. It also provides many part-time jobs to disabled persons and retirees, and is responsible for furnishing employment to thousands of military veterans. Labor and employment law takes on an expansive scope within the hospitality industry, requiring knowledge of disability law and other related specializations.
Many of the properties owned and maintained by the leisure and hospitality industry are large and expansive. By the very nature of the hospitality industry, they tend to be located in highly desirable, pristine, and natural locations, which usually involves close proximity to beachfront properties, wetlands, and other largely unspoiled locations. The impact of the industry on the environment is considerable, resulting in many corresponding regulations which must be adhered to. Even the rumor of lack of environmental regulatory compliance can lead to a substantial and immediate drop in business, rendering the existence of an actual violation virtually moot.
Intellectual Property Law
From corporate logos to product and service branding, intellectual property law plays a large role within the leisure and hospitality industry. This is further complicated by the frequency with which different properties are either acquired or split off from each other. Keeping track of who owns what property and how a property may be used is practically an industry in itself, providing work for entire law firms across the U.S. who specialize in intellectual property rights exclusively.
With as many areas of focus as leisure and hospitality law has to offer, there are successful professionals (even entire firms) whose practices focus on one or more of its inclusive specializations. This makes the field a little more complicated to get into, but it also allows for a massive increase in the number of opportunities available to dedicated legal professionals.